Progressive Grocer Independent

APR 2016

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April 2016 | Defining the Independent Market | 29 It does require a commitment, however. "You've got to go all in; you can't just dabble in it," afrms Steve Bitter, CRM director for Associ- ated Food Stores (AFS), in Salt Lake City, Utah. "It can't be a hobby. It's like any other venture — you invest yourself for a period of time and give it everything you've got." Growing Market Part of this rush is that the online food and beverage grocery market is estimated to account for $33 billion in sales in 2016, or about 4 percent of re- tail penetration, according to Barron's, a fnancial magazine. By 2021, it will rise to $70 billion and 8 percent retail penetration, Barron's further estimates. More than 40 percent of U.S. consumers have purchased groceries online, according to a recent Brick Meets Click consumer study, and 20 percent are active users of online grocery ser- vices. (Active is defned as consumers who have made online grocery purchases in the past 90 days and plan to do so again in the next 90 days.) On average, these active shoppers spend 16 percent of their weekly grocery dollars online. Te numbers are compelling, but choosing a partner in the e-com- merce industry should entail seri- ous consideration. "Don't rush into what will hopefully be a long-term partnership," cautions Alexandra Haake Kamberos, director of brand development for Treasure Island Foods, which operates seven stores in the Chicago area. "Work to fnd the provider that fts all of your needs. Te team you will work with is equally as important as the service they provide." Tis may be easier said than done, as the num- ber of companies ofering these services has multiplied consid- erably in the 15-plus years that e-commerce has been a reliable ofering. Finding the one that part- ners best with your operation may take time. For Dash's Market, the research process took almost a year. Treasure Island Foods also took its time, researching companies over the past few years. "Our goal was to fnd the right partner," Kamberos explains. "What we found was an incredible di- vide between traditional e-commerce providers with infexible systems and antiquated pricing models, newer systems where the team behind it had very little understanding of the grocery back-end operations, and In 2015, 41% of U.S. consumers purchased groceries online; 21% have purchased them in the last 30 days, compared with only 11% in 2013.

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